"A Perfect Love in a Better World": Reconstructing the Love Story of Two Young Women in Early 20th-Century Boston

Saturday, January 5, 2019: 11:10 AM
Stevens C-6 (Hilton Chicago)
Wendy Rouse, San José State University
‘A Perfect Love in a Better World’: Reconstructing the Love Story of Two Young Women in Early-20th Century Boston exposes a moment when parents, teachers, and school administrators began to worry about the sexual undertones of female friendships and attempted to suppress the culture of crushes and romantic friendships between young women. Previous scholars have examined the predominance of these intimate relationships among girls and women in the mid-nineteenth century and have noted the decline of public discussion of these relationships in the resulting wake of cultural anxiety over female sexuality in the early twentieth century. However, few scholars have considered how the larger cultural paradigm shift that cast female relationships under intense scrutiny had very real, life-changing implications for individuals living through this era of change. Furthermore, the stories of these girls and women have been rendered largely invisible over time. Through the reconstruction and retelling of the story of two young women who lived and loved during this era, we can examine the effects of changing scientific and cultural attitudes on individuals of this period. Perhaps more importantly, we can begin to understand how the process of historical erasure of their lives and love continues to have significant implications to this day.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation